Tom Robinson leaves the motorway to play Brighton


Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

It was 40 years ago to the day, Tom told us, that he had played in Brighton with a set comprising of Power In The Darkness. And, so he returned tonight, with a full band, to play the album live on the 40th anniversary of its release. And what a set it turned out to be. Songs and memories shared at The Brighthelm Centre in Brighton 06/10/2018 on an event hosted by Dictionary Pudding.

Tom Robinson and Power In The Darkness

The TOM ROBINSON Band’s debut album Power In The Darkness was first performed 40 years ago in Victoria Park, London in front of 80,000 people at Rock Against Racism’s Carnival Against The Nazis alongside Steel Pulse, The Clash and X-Ray Spex. The album was certified gold in the UK and Japan resulting in a major 28-date UK tour supported by Stiff Little Fingers in the Autumn of 1978. Tom Robinson first became known in 1977 as a musician, LGBT activist and anti-racist campaigner with the Tom Robinson Band (TRB) whose debut release 2-4-6-8 Motorway became one of the landmark singles of the UK punk era. Other well-known songs at the time included Glad To Be Gay, Up Against The Wall and Too Good To Be True.

As a radio broadcaster Tom hosts three shows a week on BBC Radio 6 Music, served for 10 years on the Ivor Novello Awards committee and was awarded a fellowship of LIPA in recognition of his support for new music with BBC Introducing.

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

The Set

Tom Robinson appeared on the stage to say hello to the packed out venue. He was greeted with a warm cheer as he stood there and proceeded to chat with us. He gave us an outline of what to expect and did promise 2-4-6-8 Motorway – even though it wasnt on the album! Another huge cheer. I last saw Tom Robinson way back – no dates given here! So, I had been looking forward to this show. It meant I could raise my hand when he asked if anyone had seen him live before. Looking back in time to the late 70’s punk, no demonstration was complete without a rendition of Robinson’s political or social comment charged anthems. Time to ready those voices Brighton!

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom returned minus the jacket and glasses, strapped on his bass guitar, rolled up his sleeves and with a smile and a nod to the band track one, side one sparked into life. The guitar opened with the blistering riff of Up Against The Wall.  The fine band joined in, drums, keys and the bass with Tom delivering the vocals. What a start and set the tone for the evening. Sound levels were good as was the overall mix – each instrument and vocal performance was clear.

Tom explained they would go through the album in the original listing order. That meant Grey Cortina was up next. The band gave a great upbeat version of this. A single Too Good To Be True was up next, with some nice keyboards. A slower tempo after the roof raising start. A fabulous song, that always had contained a hint of Van Morrisons “Moondance” for me,  and was great to hear it live.

The Band – slides

Tom Robinson playing bass and delivering the vocals
Andy Treacey from Faithless on drums,
Adam Phillips from the Richard Ashcroft Band on lead guitar
Jim Simmons on keyboards

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Tom, who explained he was 68 and this was the fourth date on his UK Tour, said his voice was a “bit croaky” and offered us some advice for that “drink plenty of water!”. Brilliant. The set progressed through the album track listing. I have to say at times the the evening has a strong intimate feel, a bit like an evening of conversation as Tom shared memories and views with us. Tom Robinson took the time to countdown the tracks and gave us a history to introduce almost every song they played. But, then the band would fire up and again launch us into some wonderful live music.

Tom Robinson and band - photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom Robinson and band – photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom at one point explained how expensive it was to make an album. He went on to say that the first album, Power In The Darkness was very successful for the band and made them a fair sum. They used that capital to make and record the second album, which was’nt as successful as hoped and provided little financial return. He remembered how he then spent everything on the third  album with a band called Sector 27 ( that mention drew a few cheers from the crowd), and that didn’t sell at all and made them no money!

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Tom Robinson: photo by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

The album completed, the band stepped forward to great appreciation from the crowd. The band thanked us and we thanked them! Tom asked us to imagine they had left the stage and come back on for an encore. Martin, the anthemic Glad To Be Gay came at us, the crowd knowing every word joined in. The the fabulous 2-4-6-8 Motorway closed the show. There wasn’t a single person standing still and not singing along to an extended version of the song. A perfect ending.

A seriously long bout of applause followed and Tom seem genuinely moved by the feedback being provided. Well deserved Mr Robinson, to you and the brilliant band.

Tom Robinson on the web

Support/Guests

Lee Griffiths

A Singer/Songwriter from Moston, Manchester

A first for me tonight was the brilliant Lee Griffiths. An acoustic guitar player/singer, with a lovely Gibson that was on loan to him – that he admitted he wanted to keep! It did look good on you Lee! A self-styled “shit-kicker from Moston” Lee Griffiths (TLG) was discovered as a youthful soul prodigy by Paul Morley in the late 90s and signed to ZTT Records. Lee recorded his debut album ‘Northern Songs’ with producer Trevor Horn but was disenchanted with the direction the record company pursued and returned to civilian life in North Manchester.

He finally began writing and recording at home again in earnest while holding down a series of low-paid jobs to keep the rent. Thank goodness he is back on the road doing something he is clearly passionate about. This was a vibrant set starting off with Lee kissing a fan who had come from Belgium to see him play. Nice touch I thought. Some downright good, down to earth songs in his slot. Lee has a certain style which flows through his set of own penned material. Beautifully presented with some fine between songs chat all delivered in his warm accent, and topped of with a killer smile. For me, well the set could have been a bit longer. I would have loved to hear more of his material presented live. In the time he played he developed a real bond with the crowd through his personality and music. I really enjoyed the set Lee. Well played.

Lee Griffiths on the web

ASBO Derek

A Brighton based outfit.

Another first for me. ASBO Derek. Played the venue with a handful of catchy tunes. If you’ve been to an Asbo Derek gig, I hadn’t,  you’ll know what to expect. It’s a bit sweary, its mildly flashy, its well…. just about any descriptor you could use, but it is hilarious. The band seemed to be enjoying the ribald humour as much as the crowd. I really cant think of many bands who could get away with “crying a Billy Ocean of tears”!  Brilliant. Jem Price is a brilliant front man, and he has a fine voice used to put the pun in punk. Fabulous vocals. As I say a few songs in the set ending with Brian ‘SuBo’ Blaney’s love letter to Eric Pickles “you are in a pickles” did make it! I hope to catch these guys again next time they play Brighton. That was great fun, some top tunes from the band, some great vocals all lapped up by the audience with relish. Nicely done guys.

ASBO Derek is on Facebook

And finally…

Well done to Dictionary Pudding, they hosted the event. They are a live music promoter, Brighton-based, national promotions and European bookings. It was well put together and everything was well organised. Thank you guys! Dictionary Pudding are on the web – check them out here.

The Brighthelm Centre – I hadn’t been to this venue before. Great building, super acoustics and manned by a friendly team. They are on Facebook here.

 

Please note all images are copyright, please do not copy. If any of the featured artists would like copies of the images – or more if available – please get in touch.
All pictures – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ Scene Sussex/ Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2018.

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